Veteran engineer develops natural airco

After a life-long career in designing air-conditioning systems, Ben Bronsema (78) has developed a zero-energy airco by using the building itself as a climate engine.

Exploring the system top-down, the curved Ventec roof handles air intake on the windward side of the building, and expulsion of used air in the centre of the roof. This layout ensures there will be no shortcut contamination from exhaust to inlet. The roof makes use of the Venturi-effect. This means that passing winds will create an under pressure that will suck used air from the building. The 360 degrees intake uses wind pressure and a pressure room to power the airflow through the building. From this intake, the air flows into the climate cascade.

The Climate Cascade is a shaft where water of 13 degrees Celsius falls down, pulling the incoming air downwards. In the summer, the hot air will be cooled and dried. The falling cold water will dry the air because excess humidity will condense on the cold-water droplets. In the winter, cold air will be warmed up in the climate cascade, after which it will be heated further by an auxiliary heating unit which uses heat from the underground heat storage or, if the sun shines, directly from the solar chimney.

After the air has served the living- or workspaces, the Solar Chimney, an architectural provision at the South side that harvests solar heat to create an upward draft, will draw it out. Besides powering the air suction, the solar chimney (or solar façade) also produces heat, which will be harvested by heat exchangers and stored in underground aquifers for use in the winter.

According to calculations for the refurbishment of a four-floor office building, the subsequent steps will reduce the climate system’s energy use, and even make the building energy producing.

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